David Vieth

Following Sir Edmund Gosse in 1885 (Seventeenth-Century Studies, 2d ed.) and Gwen John in 1920 (Fortnightly, vol. 108), David Vieth is one of the earliest commentators on Ephelia. In his classic, Attribution in Restoration Poetry (1963), he judges that "The Ephelia of Female Poems remains one of the most intriguing mysteries of Restoration literature" (344); he also comments on Ephelia's impressive poetic skills (346; 465ff), as have Lawrence Lipking and Germaine Greer, among others.

Vieth only tentatively credits to Sir George Etherege the famous lyric, "Ephelia's Lamentation," which Brice Harris has dated to July, 1675 (ELH [1943], 294-309; Wilson, Court Satires, 258-9). This famous complaint is a verse-epistle addressed to John (Sheffield), Lord Mulgrave, in Mary Villiers's ventrilloquized voice of Mary "Mall" Kirke, a famous Court courtesan and jilted mistress of Mulgrave.

Following Joseph Woodfall Ebsworth, a nineteenth-century anthologist who brought fresh attention to two of Ephelia's texts, Vieth (and also James Thorpe) has essentially "fixed" the "Lamentation" as part of a linked group of satires on Mulgrave. In the closing section of this essay, I argue from fact and internal evidence that Etherege is a most unlikely candidate for the authorship of this most "female poem" in Ephelia's collected writings.